MY LIFE – A bad day for baking

MY LIFE – A bad day for baking

Tuesday of last week started out like any other day, with no reason to expect it would be otherwise: Out of bed way too early, got the outdoor watering done before the heat had a chance to crank up any higher, and harvested/trimmed some of the splendiferous-beyond-belief basil to prevent it going to seed and dying before its time. That done, the day was mine to do with as I saw fit.

That’s one of the joys of being retired. Other than necessities like the occasional medical appointment or scheduled fun times like bowling and playing pitch on leagues, I am free to enjoy plenty of what the president likes to call “executive time.”

On this particular day, with my sister Bev’s birthday being celebrated the next day, her husband Marcel’s birthday having passed just nine days earlier, and nothing else on my calendar, I thought it would be fun to take them out for lunch. They in turn invited me to their house to play cards afterward, and then to stay for dinner since their son Dave and his family would also be there.

“Great,” I said. “I will bring dessert.” I thought I could just throw together a quick cobbler since I still had a big bowl full of blueberries I had picked over the weekend.

“No, no trouble at all,” I insisted as I headed home with an hour or so to spare before supper would be served.

I turned the oven on as I walked into the house, took out the 9-by-13-inch dish I normally use for cobbler, and put a stick of butter into a pan on the stove to start melting. Out came the mixing bowl. Into it went two cups of flour. I double checked the cookbook for measurements for baking powder, salt and sugar, lightly beat the egg, added milk and vanilla, and began mixing, but something wasn’t right. The batter was way too stiff. That’s when I took another look at the recipe.

Rats! It only called for one cup and a half of flour, but since everything was already mixed in, the only thing left to do ... other than dumping it out and starting over ... was to fudge it, adding a bit more sugar, another partial teaspoonful of baking powder, a pinch more salt, and another egg. Milk added to make it look right. That done I spooned it over the seven cups of fresh blueberries and put it in the oven.

So far so good.

However, it was when I went to check on it later to see how the baking was coming along that I noticed the pan of melted butter still sitting on the stove, causing a bad word or two to slip past my lips as panic set in.

I have been making this recipe for more than 50 years. The stinkin’ cookbook I was using is the family cookbook that I wrote! I could do this in my sleep, yet there I stood, stupefaction writ large on my face, melted butter still sitting on the stove, and what was now a giant fat-free blueberry cobbler baking in the oven. It was too late to try again, it was not cooked enough to sample it to see if it was even edible, and besides, there were no more berries with which to make another one, and the clock was loudly ticking away as suppertime drew closer and closer.

OK, think. What can I do now? A quick peek into the pantry and I spotted two cans of peaches. Great, an 8-by-8-inch peach cobbler would have to do. Out came the cookbook again, new pan greased and ready, peaches drained and into the pan. As I measured out the dry ingredients, it suddenly occurred to me that the melted butter was for the doubled recipe size. Still thinking on my feet, I hurriedly doubled up on everything.

Too much batter? Not a problem, I would just use half on the peaches and bake the rest in a square cake pan. I had strawberries in the freezer and Cool Whip in the fridge, so I could make strawberry shortcake for Bev’s birthday the next day. Whew! Problem solved.

As I pulled into Bev’s driveway, I could see that the dining room light was on and people were already heading to the table.

“It looks like a mouse might have eaten a corner out of the cobbler,’’ my nephew Dave commented as I walked past him with the blueberry one.

“No mouse,” I explained as I headed out to the car for the other cobbler. “Things didn’t go well with the baking and I had to sample a piece of it to make sure it was edible, which it is, although the texture is a little off. But that’s OK, we still have a fall-back cobbler just in case.”

Rhea Bouchard Powers is a writer from Cumberland.